Friday, June 05, 2009

Independence Days #4

Earlier this week, I bumped into the Contradance Queen -- one of the last times that will happen as she's leaving in a week. Since she had been on her way to see me anyway, she handed me a little something she wanted to give me: a calendar from her hometown, with suggestions listed for when to plant crops or how to incorporate garden prep work into the year.

The calendar is part of a project called Sustainable Berea and taps into many of the same themes and missions of the Transition Movement, something the Renaissance Man and I have been following with great interest. In short, our economic and environmental situation offers us an ideal opportunity to "re-skill" or to relearn old-fashioned skills of self-reliance and to build community while learning.

This is no dewy-eyed romantic return to the "good old days" that never really were, but a sensible adaptation of skills that rely less on cheap energy and more on human power and know-how. And it fits in beautifully with the Independence Days challenge.

While you may think I'm cruising through this "challenge" on the skills I already have, though, I can assure you I'm not. No matter what you may know about gardening or cooking or food preservation, there's always something more to learn -- maybe not in the how-to but rather in the "what's appropriate for this particular situation this year" vein.

And on top of that, there are other skills waiting for me to open my mind to the possibilities.

So without further ado, here's my report from this past week:

1. Plant something: Since I've cleared a little more space in the Renaissance Man's garden, I planted my CSA basil pot as well as seeds for horehound, parsnips, and cannellini beans.

2. Harvest something: From the Southern Belle's garden came lettuce, radishes, cilantro, and pac choi (delivered as I couldn't get to the garden this past week); from the Renaissance Man's garden came lavender, oregano, peppermint, and roses; and I even managed to forage some chickweed at the Farm.

3. Preserve something: Dried lavender (hanging in a paper bag), peppermint and sage (in the dehydrator), pac choi (ditto), and rose petals (on a tray).

4. Reduce waste: The Renaissance Man decided earlier this week that he wanted to set up a rain barrel in the garden, and did I want to help? At the mention of "ladder" and "power tools" I figured I'd better, just to keep an eye on him. So we rerouted the downspouting around a back window and angled it into a large barrel -- just in time for the thunderstorms that filled it up in one night. (Next steps: finding mesh to cover the barrel, and rigging up an overflow.) I also caught up on mending this week and repaired a nightshirt that was almost ready for the rag bag -- saved!

5. Preparation and storage: The Chef Mother offered me a couple of plastic lidded storage bins last weekend, and one ended up the perfect size to allow me to organize and store my seed packets. (It even slides under the bed, freeing up some space in the closet for something else.) This should make it easier to find seeds as I work on succession planting this year.

6. Build local food systems: Another week, another Local Roots meeting; also finished the newsletter (PDF) and helped distribute it to prospective members; starting to brainstorm about educational articles for future issues.

7. Eat the food: More scrumptious salads; spelt pasta (local flour and egg) with homemade marinara sauce and local red wine; good garlicky borani; and even a succulent quiche with leek and eggs from my CSA, broccoli from the freezer, a pinch of dried oregano, and local Cheddar cheese.

There's always something new if you just let it find you!

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At 6/05/2009 11:10 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

I love reading your blog! I am not actually involved in the challenge, but I'm doing most of those things most weeks as well! I love that we are doing what we can to seek our own independance!! Thanks for your inspiration!!!

At 6/08/2009 7:11 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Thanks, Rebecca -- and keep up the good work on YOUR home front, too! :-)


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